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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Head Wound, Part One

Screen shot of Audrey Bell in JFK: Destiny Betrayed

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series JFK: Destiny Betrayed uses a variety of supposed witnesses to allege that the wound in the back of Kennedy's head was one of exit. Audrey Bell is one such witness and she most probably didn't see anything. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (6:20 of episode three)

[Assassinations Records Review Board Medical Interview 3/20/97]

Interviewer: Using the most precise medical terminology that you can use.

Audrey Bell: Ok, let's see, it was on the right rear and he shifted the head a little bit, to the left. Lifted up the, kind of matted area, the flap. And you could see the ... hole, and there was ... brain, and spinal fluid .. dripping down out of it. Then I noticed it was dripping down into a bucket.

Audrey Bell was the operating room supervisor at Parkland Hospital. She was interviewed by the ARRB:

If Audrey Bell was in Trauma Room 1, it was for a very short period -- just a few minutes. It is very hard to believe that in the middle of the doctors' frantic attempt to save Kennedy's life that she asked Dr. Perry "where is the wound?" It is even harder to believe that he interrupted whatever he was doing to move Kennedy's head to show her.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed edited what she said in her interview. Here is an excerpt from a transcript of the interview: (22:52 of side 1)

Douglas Horne: Okay. Thank you. Would you describe for me, using the most precise medical terminology that you can use, the president's head wound, the location?

Audrey Bell: Okay. Let's see, it was on the right rear. I think it's called the parietal area.

Clearly the producers did not want mention of the "parietal area" in the film.

Right after that statement, Douglas Horne did something the Warren Commission was criticized for:

Douglas Horne: We can go off the record?

Horne resumed by asking Bell where she was standing: (21:29)

Douglas Horne: Okay. We're back on the record. Before I ask you to describe the president's head wound, would you tell me where you were standing when you observed, in relation to the cart?

Audrey Bell: Oh, I was at the head of the table.

She was supposedly very close. Here is another description of the head wound: (7:49)

Audrey Bell: They were also setting up to do a tracheostomy. Dr. Perry was going to do that. And when I took a first look, I could recognize the president, but I didn't see an injury because there was no injury around his face. I asked, I said, "Well, where's the injury?" And Dr. Perry was standing there and he reached up on the president's head and just pulled up a little bit, turned his head to the left a little and there was a gaping hole and that's where the brain and the fluids were dripping out. And I don't know, it could have been three or four inches that I saw.

Douglas Horne: In diameter?

Audrey Bell: In diameter, yeah. And some of the - they were wanting to start an IV on the right arm. And I remember getting my scissors or getting a pair of scissors and cutting the president's shirt up the seam.

Three or four inches in diameter?

Guess what wound Audrey Bell did not see? She actually did not see the wound in Kennedy's throat despite being there (supposedly) for the tracheotomy.

Douglas Horne: Okay. If you feel comfortable with Bell exhibit four, I would ask you to represent what part of the brain that would've corresponded to. If you feel comfortable marking that drawing.

Audrey Bell: Well, I'd say it would have to come down into this lower section, but I'm not, it would probably be somewhere like that. But I would say that's very unscientific.

Douglas Horne: It's an approximation, then?

Audrey Bell: Mm-hm (affirmative). Be very much an approximation, because I didn't really stay and examine it that long. When I saw the massive wound injury, I knew that if he was going to get to surgery, we had to put everything in motion very, very rapidly. And so I did not stay and do any discussion with the doctors about the extent of the injury, how bad it was. My main focus then was to get an operating room ready and get a crew set up so that ... Dr. Clark wanted to bring him up. We'd have everything in ready in the OR.

The Audrey Bell diagram #2 (on the right) is not so clear in the ARRB document. However, a much clearer version of the diagram is contained in Volume 1 of Douglas Horne's book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: (figure 20)

The two views of the skull, as marked by Audrey Bell, are not in agreement.

Her claim Dr. Perry showed her the back of Kennedy's head--when no one else remembered Dr. Perry showing the wound to anyone, or her even being in the room--is as smelly as smelly can get. I mean, just look at this...this is a photo of Trauma Room One as presented in an article by Dr. Ronald Jones.

Now visualize doctor after doctor standing around this gurney. At the head of the gurney (on the far side of the room) stand Drs. Jenkins and McClelland. Along the sides of the gurney stand Drs. Perry, Baxter, Jones, Peters, Salyers, etc. There is no way a nurse would push past these men, go to the head of the gurney, and ask to be shown the head wound. No way.
I don't believe Bell's story, and I'm embarrassed for you if you do.

You can get a good idea of how small Trauma Room 1 was in this picture with Father Huber:

Dr. Ron Jones provided an oral history to the Sixth Floor Museum (pages 30 -31 in We Were There: Revelations from the Dallas Doctors Who Attended JFK on November 22, 1963):

I hung up the phone and turned around and noticed a table. This was a fairly large cafeteria. And just a few feet away behind me sat Dr. M. T. Jenkins, who ... [was] better known as "Pepper" Jenkins, and he was head of the department of anesthesia, and Miss Audrey Bell, who was the operating room supervisor at Parkland. And so, people were beginning to look at me at that time from ... employees in the cafeteria, knowing that something must be going on. I went over to that table, and I said, "You aren't going to believe this, but the president's been shot and they're bringing him to the emergency room." And Dr. Jenkins said, "Well, I'll get an anesthesia machine from the operating room and bring it right down." And Miss Bell said, "I'll get an operating room ready."

Makes sense that the operating room supervisor would get an operating room ready. Did she really have time to do that and then get to Trauma Room 1?

Furthermore Dr. Jenkins told Dennis Breo that he doubted "any of the Parkland physicians even had a good look at the President's head." He noted: ("JFK's Death: Part II - Dallas MDs Recall Their Memories," page 157 of John Canal's Silencing the Lone Assassin)

I was standing at the head of the table in at the position the anesthesiologist most often assumes closest to the President's head. My presence there and the president's great shock of hair and the location of the head wound were such that it was not visible to those standing down each side of the gurney where they were carrying out their resuscitative maneuvers.

Viewers of JFK: Destiny Betrayed will not learn that there are reasons to question Audrey Bell's credibility.

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